Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Published September 2016 by Harper Collins AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At eighteen she's already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she's learned how to forget it. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep and the pain washes out the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don't have to think about your father and the bridge. Your best friend who is gone forever. Or your mother who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie's heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen to find your way back from the edge.
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is an absolutely stunning debut novel. She states in the author's note that it took her nine years and fourteen drafts to write. That dedication really shows in the quality of her writing. I am so impressed with just how amazing this book is.
Seventeen year old Charlotte Davis is in a facility for girls that self-harm. She's undergoing treatment after a diagnosis of NSSI (non-suicidal self-harm). She's had a hard and rocky life up until this point: her father committed suicide when she was eight. Her mother verbally and physically abused her. Her best friend attempted suicide and suffered brain damage. She left home and lived on the street for eight months, sharing a van with a drug addicted boy and his friend, winding up at a house where a man kept girls drugged and sold time with them to the men who frequented the residence.
A less-skilled author would have made a mess of a story like Charlie's. It would have been overly dramatic, angsty, forced, disrespectful. But Glasgow's sensitivity and experience shines through in this novel. She writes with honestly and compassion.
From the moment Charlie is introduced, I wanted to protect her. I found myself tearing up each time she was showed kindness by another character. I felt hopeful but also sad that she was having to go through life alone. I could understand each time she took a step backwards instead of forwards. It never felt as if she was deliberately self-sabotaging her recovery, it showed she was trying to cope the only way she knew how.
The pacing was really well done. It takes time for Charlie to reveal her past and her story is captivating. I could picture her life vividly and found myself completely absorbed.
There isn't a lot of self-harm in the story. Yes, it's mentioned a few times and described in detail, but this story is about so much more than that. It's about love and self-love. It's about hope and faith. It's about finding yourself and knowing your life is worth living.
Ableist language: crazy, freak, dumb, psycho, loony, wacko, loopy, mental, 'have a fit'.
Girl in Pieces is a heartbreaking and intense story of one girl's recovery, but most importantly is full of hope. A beautiful and brutal story, it's now one of my favourite books of 2016 and all time.
Thank you to Harper Collins for my review copy.